Photoshop and Duct Tape

Photoshop is a wonderful tool that even the great Ansel Adams would have embraced.  But like any tool, it can be used properly or improperly.  With improper use, we run the risk of turning Photoshop into the digital equivalent of duct tape. Sure, duct tape might work, but wouldn’t it look better if it were done properly from the beginning?

Start with a great photo. Photoshop is not an excuse for poor or lazy photography. Get as much straight out of the camera as possible.  Do not rely on the blur tool to create a fake bokeh, learn how to do it by adjusting your aperture. Lighting changes (sources rather than exposure) are particularly difficult to adjust in Photoshop.  Learn photography basics and your camera.

Stay away from making size changes when combining photos. I like to call this “The Anne Geddes Effect”.  Mind you, I have nothing against Ms Geddes. She is a skillful photographer who found a hugely marketable niche.  Unfortunately, many people try to copy her with Photoshop and most do it very badly.  Please keep your butterfly photos and your baby photos separate from each other.  Both are lovely the way they are!

Don’t turn everything into black and white.  Lately I’ve noticed a trend to desaturate every photo in the thought that it makes the photo more dramatic or important.  While certain photos lend themselves to black and white, like some portraits and scenes with high contrast, most should be left with their color in them.  If you do convert a photo, make sure to use all of the Photoshop tools (not just the auto setting) to customize the monochromatic image.

Experiment, but delete it if it’s not up to snuff.  Choose your filters and effects wisely and know when to stop.  Just because they are there doesn’t mean you have to use them.  If it’s not perfect, delete it. Nothing makes a photo look worse than a bad Photoshop job.  Make sure to make your changes to a copy or on another layer so you can return to your original image.

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